The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Ecuador to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Ecuador's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government's strategy for advancing democracy and human rights aims to strengthen democratic checks and balances and the effective distribution of power among federal, provincial, and municipal authorities by supporting strong local governments, an effective and independent judicial sector, increased National Assembly outreach to citizens, and greater citizen participation in government decision-making. In developing strategic priorities, U.S. officials work closely with government institutions, NGOs, labor unions, and other civil society groups to encourage and implement reforms, develop better monitoring and information systems, and discuss human rights and democracy topics. The United States uses diplomatic engagement, public outreach, foreign assistance programs, exchange programs, and related initiatives to advance strategic objectives. In its public outreach programs, the United States underscores democratic themes, the importance of strong government institutions, adherence to internationally recognized labor standards, and the protection of vulnerable groups. U.S. officials actively respond to government requests for training and technical assistance regarding judicial reform, combating corruption, enforcing labor laws, and other governance topics.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
The U.S. Government implements programs that target strengthening financial management capacity, facilitating citizen participation in local government decision-making, and developing and sustaining mechanisms that promote accountability. The U.S. Government is providing technical assistance and training to the country's Electoral Disputes Tribunal and supports the National Electoral Council's efforts to foster voting rights accessibility for persons with disabilities. The United States supports NGOs that have worked with the National Assembly in drafting the separation of functions within the electoral tribunal and other legal reforms.
To support an independent media, U.S. officials in the country host presentations on freedom of the press and annual seminars on journalistic professionalism. The United States funds six radio programs, transmitted by 10 Kichwa-speaking stations, on citizen rights and responsibilities.
To strengthen the capacity of justice sector institutions, U.S. programs reinforce criminal justice professionals' knowledge and skills regarding the accusatorial trial system by providing nationwide trial advocacy workshops, mock trials, advanced courses on special crimes, and visits to U.S. courts and judicial institutions. U.S. assistance programs train judicial police in criminal investigation techniques through the creation and dissemination of training videos and other materials, streamlining case resolution in the capital, promoting effectiveness of the judicial disciplinary system, and supporting the development of automated criminal case registries and tracking systems. U.S. assistance also supports public defender programs with the government as well as NGOs for indigent persons, and provides legal services for prisoners awaiting sentencing. The United States provides training, technical assistance, and equipment to the customs authority and other government agencies to combat money laundering and corruption. To support government antitrafficking efforts, U.S. assistance focuses on: helping the central government and NGOs implement the National Anti-trafficking Plan; enhancing selected shelter services for victims; promoting reintegration of victims in society; raising awareness; and strengthening prosecutions.
To reinforce respect for human rights within the armed forces, the U.S. Government partners with the country's military to send participants to the United States for training that includes components on respect for the rule of law.
The United States is providing human rights training to the Defense Ministry's General Directorate of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Rights. The U.S. Government is pursuing fast track vetting for the members of the country's military to participate in U.S. training. To foster increased respect for the rights of indigenous people, the United States is assisting lowland indigenous federations in strengthening their capacity to secure land rights, manage natural resources, and develop alternative conflict resolution techniques. The U.S. Government is supporting programs for combating child labor, including innovative projects that engage indigenous communities in participatory planning, budgeting, and monitoring to remove children from exploitive labor and place them in education programs. To improve emergency service responses for persons with disabilities, the United States has funded training and technical assistance for emergency responders in 11 municipalities in four high-risk provinces. U.S. programs for persons with disabilities have supported job placement services, the establishment of Internet centers, and the training of 270 persons with disabilities.